Friday night this week involved some informal
farewell drinks arranged by two day job colleagues who are making career moves.
The two are I think in their 20's and reserved a space for us
in the new Ha Ha establishment (it is not a pub in the traditional
meaning of the word) near London's Victoria mainline station.
The two girls are popular
and all are sorry to see them leave. Their choice of the Ha Ha however
made me reflect, as our evening there coincided with yet another
one of those reports (in the Tablet this time) about British youth and alcohol.
The Ha Ha was heaving with noise and people, most of whom
were in their 20's also. The premises on two very large floors
with extensive plate glass windows and modern decor, were more reminiscent
of a contemporary department store than a pub. There was huge
crush at the bar to buy drinks so for the proprietors,
judging by the sales taking place, the place is probably a
The two leavers had reserved a space for us upstairs but even there
conversations had to be conducted almost by shouting.
When in my own 20's the pub atmosphere that most of us sought as
I recall, was that of a quiet place to chat and drink.
Sometimes for a change a pub with live music was chosen but that
was not the norm.
The best pubs for the atmosphere which facilitated
chat argument and conversations, were those with
only a few customers, which meant that the price of drink, comparatively
speaking, was far higher than it is today so we drank less and talked more.
Essentially young people going to pubs in the sixties imbibed
the atmosphere they created themselves although of course this
was affected/enhanced by the alcoholicdrink and pub character. Young people
in the noughties however, seem almost compelled to take on the atmosphere
made by the pub leaving them to have to conform
to the pub rather than the pub being a place for their own atmosphere to
The C21 pub's atmosphere of course is conditioned to maximising
the drink intake - conversation being almost impossible -
hence perhaps a significant cause of the social drinking problem.